Time after time, people ask, 'why did they blow up innocent people?' coming to no real conclusion. The following suggests one of numerous possible scenarios in which good children go bad. It is intended only as food for thought; no more than that.

Some loving, well-meaning immigrant Muslim parents and grandparents would be appalled to learn that they may be contributing to radical decisions of the few Muslim terrorists we see in America. (The number really is small, but the terroristic acts so horrific that it may seem there are more perpetrators than we actually have.) And it's possible that, with better understanding for the elders of what it means to be an American, the lives of would-be terrorists would go in quite different directions.

The reasons why some young people choose the path of terrorism may lie at home, in a totally unintended scenario. The possibility to consider for this small number of individuals is this: The older generation come to America so that their children can benefit from a good education in a free environment with the possibility of eventually attaining high-paying jobs.

The first-generation parents and/or grandparents, who may see their role only as providing a safe home with a good education and strong Muslim moral values; they are probably deeply religious, peace-loving, scholarly or otherwise successful individuals.

American diversity and freedom might seem overwhelming to some people who come from homogenous areas where society imposes strict behavioral constraints. They don't understand what it takes to combine the best of their original culture with the best of American life, which seems incomprehensible to them. So, their mistake is, not that they wish strongly to preserve the value of their original culture in the minds of their offspring, but the uncompromising way they go about it.

Taking little or no part in American life, this group of people see American life and politics through the eyes of their original culture. Their aim is to combine the original culture with educational and economic American benefits. They do not realize that their offspring will be hybrids of the two cultures. Without doubt, they mean the best for their children and grandchildren, but they are lacking in insight and understanding of how their youngsters may be processing the older folks' approach. That understanding is crucial for a positive outcome.

It is important to realize that the elder generation are highly moral, well-meaning people who wish to preserve the value of their original culture in the minds of their children so, without insight, they may think that by pointing out deficiencies of America, youngsters may see the virtues of their homeland, albeit without the opportunities available in America.

At home, in this comparatively small group of immigrant Muslim families, the youngsters are compliant while they listen to misguided denunciations of American lifestyle, politics and military policies. Perhaps the older people, think that berating America makes their culture look better'; they do not always temper it with their societal responsibility to make America better, and they don't show similar comparisons regarding other countries. They provide little balance, without understanding that American military policy relates only to the military and politicians -- not to Americans in general. The elders don't think to make the distinction that most Americans are equally as loving, well-meaning and God-fearing as the immigrants are, because they don't realize how their children are processing their statements.

Youngsters who lose their way are impressionable, sometimes with low self-esteem; they may see their elders as infinitely wise and knowledgeable -- yet, they must go to school and function in American society, to at least some degree. Caught between the two cultures, they present a totally acceptable face to each. At school, they are 'just like the other kids'.

Yet, a noticeable difference from the other kids is that their elders in these few cases do not attend school functions or athletic events in which the children participate, while they may attend every function at the mosque and may even be leaders there. Mosque activities are, nearly without exception, considered fine and good (which they are, usually); however, attending only mosque activities sends a strong message to the younger generation(s), 'these are the only activities worthy of our attention'. At home, they are model Muslim children. Inwardly, however, the youngsters are processing all of this, forming their own conclusions.

Like typical American teens, they may be solitary at home, spending long hours at the computer, drawing or reading. As the children mature chronologically, their tendency to judge the world as black or white, good or bad with no gray areas, coupled with the natural passion of youth, can lead a small but significant number of them to no other conclusion than that they must 'do their part spectacularly to change the world' according to dramatic actions they see on the internet or TV.

This is when, through social media they may start looking for like-minded people globally; then, fueled with intensified zeal, they start learning about weaponry and bombs, and the end becomes inevitable.

Later, when informed of heinous acts of their beloved children, their parents and grandparents are often baffled and simply devastated. They had tried to instill good, strong values in their children, as the elders had learned them; the problem is, they simply don't understand that living in America means much more than just going through the motions of achieving financial and/or scholastic success.

No one can say these well-meaning immigrants are capable of making an instant magical reversal of cultural understanding the moment they set foot on American soil. They cannot, of course.

The missing link is intense cultural counseling for the immigrants in the beginning, from people they relate to, who have successfully and fully made the transition. Perhaps that won't ever happen, but the need is there.
 


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